Thursday, September 30, 2010

Colour Capture

I've just spent a frustrating five minutes trying to capture the colour of these wool tops with my camera. I picked them up at the Guild last weekend. Well, actually my friend M picked them up and paid for them and I offered to spin them up for her. I'm trying to keep them out of the general stash, so there's a better chance of my getting to the spinning sooner rather than later. There's a dark purple to go with the sea-greens, but I'm not quite sure how to make the most of the combination. I started pulling colours out of my collection, which has its own excitement, but may not result in any spinning happening anytime soon.

This coming Sunday is the first in the month--October already!--and I'll be at the Guild for a few hours of easy spinning and conversation. That seems an ideal opportunity to get on with this project. Maybe I can complete it before it officially gets on to the to do list. It's fun to trick myself that way occasionally.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Silk Painting

I raided one of the local libraries for books on silk painting last week. Yesterday I went to pick up another book which I had requested. I also picked up a box of silk paints from the Neighbourhood House. I'm new to this particular medium, though a lot of what I've learned from dyeing and other fabric painting will apply. What I'm noticing so far is the way the paints flow and blend on the fabric--it looks like magic. The idea of making enlosures for colour using gutta is another feature. And I need to improvise a frame to keep the fabric stretched while I work on it. Soon it will be time to stop reading and planning, and start having a go. I have silk, I have paints, I have some ideas. Now it's time to play.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spring Day

After a morning of bright blue skies, we've had a bit of grey rainy weather. Now it's undecided, which is a pretty good summary of a Melbourne Spring day. I'm sharing the sentiment. I've had a slow start: a bit of cooking and cleaning up, interspersed with a nap or two. I'm just beginning to feel as if I'm ready to start the day, and it's lunch-time already. These geranium buds are a little more confident.
They're growing in hanging pots outside my north window and are just starting to cheer the place up. I've got a list of phone calls to make and work to do in the garden as well as the usual indoor tasks. I guess I'll wait and see how long the sunshine and my energy last.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rhythm in Blue

I'm nearly half way through this little lattice lace scarf and I'm finally getting into the rhythm of it. It's a simple enough stitch pattern, but the combination of a decrease on either side of a double yarn over just wasn't flowing smoothly for me. The left-leaning increase was specified as, "slip one knitwise, knit one, pass slipped stitch over"--that's three steps for one stitch. I've substituted "knit two together through back loop", which gives the same effect for the effort of just one step. I've also shifted one of the corresponding increases to the second row of the pattern. Now I've got a nice rhythm going with three stitches on every first row and four on the alternate rows and I'm happily zipping along.
I'll take this with me this morning, though I doubt I'll have time for much knitting. I'm off to pick up a minibus from the Council offices. I'm taking my Monday morning group in to the city to visit the Immigration Museum. Driving a twelve-seater minibus is a bit of a stretch for me, but I'm up for a new challenge. I'll have a little time before I pick up my passengers to get into the rhythm of the new vehicle.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Deep Sea

I caught up with my friend M at a quiet cafe yesterday afternoon. Normally this street in Carlton is buzzing, but the Football Grand Final was on, and people evidently had other priorities. I arrived a little early, and was happy to have a few minutes to finish off this wrap for M before she arrived. The knitting was done, but there were the inevitable loose ends to weave in. This is a tencel-acrylic yarn. The tencel gives a nice sheen which adequately compensated me for the absence of natural fibres. There were a few balls left after my teal blanket project. I've had a few conversations about naming the colour. I thought it was somewhere between a grey and a blue, leaning towards the grey. My friend R, who loves grey, said it was definitely a blue! M settled it by calling it "deep sea".

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Indigo Results . . . and questions

I've had "wash indigo samples" on my to-do list since the workshop a couple of weekends ago. One of the goals of the day was to experience how different types of fibre took the dye. This was complicated by various events of the day, with our vat being more effective in the afternoon than it was in the morning. Nevertheless there are some obvious trends:

Cellulose fibres gave the best results. Silk was pretty good. Most of the wool samples took the dye rather weakly. The exception was my 70% wool-30% cotton skein, which was a real winner. As a quilter and silk-lover I'm happy to acknowledge the positives. As a spinner and wool-lover I want more! I've emailed R, who leads the Natural Dyeing group at the Guild, with some questions. One of my Indigo books suggests a different recipe for wool. That's not surprising given the different fibre structure, but how can the vat satisfy the needs of the dye for a higher pH environment as well as the wool's desire for a lower pH. . . ? I guess I've got a lot of learning to do. That's just fine by me. Meanwhile, I can tick another task off my list and decide what to do with this bunch of samples. You can see from the pic that I've carefully labelled each one, so one option is to paste them all up nicely and add them to my folio. On the other hand, I could just play with the variety.

Now I'm going to leave them hanging in the bathroom and head off to brunch with my weaving buddies. One of the weavers is off to London with a one-way ticket, so we're gathering to wish her well on her way. My contribution to the meal is a batch of orange and date pikelets, courtesy of my friend L's recipe, so there will be sampling of a different sort in the next few hours.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Bonanza

By yesterday afternoon I was feeling tired, slow and sad. It's been a big week and I was running out of steam. On days like that I can't wait for it to be bed-time--even though there's no guarantee I'll be able to sleep when I get there. Filling in the last few hours of the day can be a real challenge. Enter the local library: I dropped in to see what I could find about silk painting. The Community Quilt project I'm working with will involve some silk; and we're planning for the women to decorate scarves for themselves. While I was there I checked out the catalogue for anything on Indigo dyeing. That drew a blank, but I did score several books on colour and a dyeing manual. By the time I'd picked up some groceries for tea and driven home via one of the other branch libraries to collect their contributions, the day was done. I didn't actually read any of these books last night, but just having them on the table was a boost.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stop and Breathe

It was a big day yesterday. In the morning I set up my contribution to the Window Frames Exhibition. I happily accepted the offer of a stray piece of electrical equipment to stabilise the wobbly mirror. The interaction between my installation and the context both inside and outside the store was challenging and fascinating--pics to come.

My evening's quilting class was punctuated by dramas with security alarms and missing keys. In between I had a couple of hours at home. I needed a safe little project to give me a break from the rather intense day. I tried this little lace lattice stitch from one of my stitch dictionaries. A four-stitch, two row repeat makes it easy enough to remember and intricate enough to catch my attention for a concentrated breathing break.
This morning I got a little over-confident and tried to keep up the rhythm of stitches while chatting with a friend on the phone. I didn't quite get it right, so I'll have to undo a few rows. There are double increases and decreases on every second line, so I'm not sure how I'll go picking it up again. OK, I just convinced myself to un-knit it rather than take it off the needles. Then a bit of cleaning up is on the agenda before my afternoon appointment.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Installing my piece for the Window Frames Exhibition in Sydney Rd, Brunswick is top of my to-do list today. It's proving to be a bit of a challenge, and I haven't left the house yet. I have an old dressing table mirror as part of the piece. I expected to be able to lean it against a wall as a backdrop to the other items. Yesterday I went down to have a look at the space I've been allocated. There is no back wall. There is no side wall either. It's a corner window with a doorway on one side, the shop floor behind and windows on two sides. I've been trying to rig up some supports for the mirror for the past half hour or so. I'm due at the shop in about 20 minutes. So far I've discovered two ways that don't work! My next thought is to use couple of weights to stabilise the back of the mirror. Hopefully there'll be something there I can use. Otherwise I'll have to think again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Community Flavours

I spent yesterday morning at the Newlands Neighbourhood House with the Arabic Speaking Women's group. It was their first big get together after a break for Ramadan, so we enjoyed a bit of a feast. The main dishes were fresh falafel; tabouleh and a mixture of cracked wheat, lentils and onion--I asked for the name, but don't feel confident that I can remember it accurately, let alone transliterate it. The Community Garden Group just happened to be meeting at the same time. They're working on a concept plan which includes a wood-fired oven, picnic tables and a herb garden. There was some great interaction between the groups, and after sitting down to a meal together, the gardeners decided that Monday is a great day for them to be at the Community Centre! There was a natural interplay between enjoying the food, identifying the flavours and naming herbs which might grow in the garden. I'm going to have to do some home-work to get some pictures and names for the gardeners. As a bonus, we might be able to incorporate pictures of some of the herbs into the quilt we're working on for the Neighbourhood House.

Here's some sage that's sitting in my window-sill. Sage didn't figure in yesterday's conversation, but I've been promising myself to take this picture. My friend A brought me the sage from her garden . . . roast pumpkin and sage risotto is on my menu for this week.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This grevillea is growing outside my front window.The bushes have been there for many years. I originally inherited them from a friend who was moving overseas. They were in small pots. I didn't know how they would cope with being planted out, since many Australian natives don't like having their roots disturbed. They coped fine. Since then I've done very little for them, and they've survived and flowered a little. They received some more attention just over a month ago when I started the great garden clean up. I thoroughly weeded their garden bed and then covered it with mulch--free mulch from the Council depot. I've had my reward many times over: they are flowering abundantly and putting out new shoots! I'm enjoying their progress every time I glance out the window and the native birds are visiting often.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


One of my goals when I do a workshop for a new skill is to experience the difficulties involved. I'm following up from last weekend's Indigo workshop. I dyed up this bit of silk in the afternoon. It looked great when it came out of the vat. After washing it's not so good. A lot of the colour has washed out and there are these odd spots here and there: From my reading, I think this is a phenomenon called crocking. Indigo, being a surface dye, can build up on the fabric instead of attaching properly. It then flakes off in the wash. Result, blue water and unevenly dyed fabric. The solution is . . . patience! More frequent, smaller applications of dye apparently minimise this problem. I'll have to try that. Not today, though. Today I need to go back to fixing the side fence. Then if I have any time and energy for indoor tasks I'll do a bit more rinsing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Patch Job

I did this rough and ready repair on my old jeans this morning. I was talking to a friend on the phone at the time, and didn't even bother taking the jeans off or finding a matching thread. I just needed the hole to be stabilised. These jeans are favourites, but really only good for wearing around the house now--perfect for a day like today.
I've got another patching challenge with my side fence. It's a paling fence which was old when I bought this place eleven-or-so years ago. It's threatening to fall over into my neighbour's yard. That would be a very unwelcome turn of events just as I'm expecting workmen to come and put up my new shed-studio. I can't face the effort of having it replaced just now either, so it's a case of doing what I can with what I've got. After a trip to the hardware store I'm getting on to it at last. I'm typing this while I take a breather. Driving bolts into red-gum posts is a tough job even when the redgum is old.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On My Table

I have such a strange mixture of things to think about and do today that I hardly know where to start. Apart from my usual--often neglected--household tasks, I'm in the middle of lots of changes and uncertainties. Then yesterday afternoon I received an email accepting my submission to Window Frames, the Sydney Rd, Brunswick Traders' Exhibition as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival : That should be a simple positive after the work I put into preparing the piece, but it's complicated at a number of levels. I deliberately designed this piece to include its context as part of the story. At the time I had no idea whether or where it would be displayed. It's going to be in the window of the Franco Cozzo Furniture store on the corner of Sydney Rd and Victoria St in Brunswick. Rather than comment on the significance--and risk tangling myself up in all sorts of ways--I'll leave you with the link to the original Franco Cozzo TV ad on youtube. Click on the link if you're a Melburnian who remembers the eighties or if you want to see what can happen when a penniless Italian/Greek immigrant makes good in his new country by catering to the needs of his up and coming contemporaries.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spring Racing

It's spring in Melbourne and the topic of conversation is moving from footy to horse racing. My Patchwork by Machine class at the Neighbourhood House are racing along too. We did lesson 4 last night. Often by this stage in the course some students are flagging and we're cheering on those who have managed to put their blocks together. This group is somewhat different. Most of them already have material for their next quilt. Several of them have already started another quilt to complete alongside the one they're making in class. One student has five quilts on the go already. I'd asked them not to rush into stitching the sashing and cornerstones because we would spend some time in class talking about ways of sorting through any difficulties . . . so H just did the sashing and cornerstones for her four other quilts and left the class quilt to work on last night!

This little collection belongs to J, one of the students who is only doing the class quilt at the moment. Mind you, she is working on an elaborately smocked Christening gown for one of her grandchildren at the same time. She bought the dinosour fabric for her grandson. She plans to just put a border around it, since she has four grand-daughters waiting their turn for quilts like the one she's currently working on in class. The Beatrix Potter print is just irresistable. We talked about ways to handle the framed pictures so as to minimise stress. I don't recommend stitching a seam parallel to a printed black line to beginners. In fact it's a task I would avoid for myself.

As for me, I'm feeling a little slow this morning. My next stop is the Council offices. I need to discuss the plans for my studio with the planner there. I'm hoping it will all go through OK. Then it's back to the shed company to hurry the building permits along. I only wish I could get that process into the spring racing mode!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meeting Preparation

The Annual General Meeting of Sussex Neighbourhood House is on this morning. There was a time when I used to thrive on meetings like this: agendas, minutes, reports, elections, debates, plans . . . I'd be involved in every detail. Today my priorities are a little different. I'll be there because I strongly support the organisation and its work; and because I like and appreciate the people involved and what they do for our community. Besides, I've nominated one of my students for election to the Committee of Management--I think she'll be a great contributor--and I've agreed to be the greeter at the door as people arrive for the meeting. My job is to welcome people and make sure they have everything they need to participate in the meeting, but my preparation involves no paperwork whatsoever. Here it is: It's my current easy knitting and I have rows and rows of garter stitch to do on circular needles. Just the thing to sit in my lap and keep my hands occupied while I take in what's going on around me.

Oh, and the raffle quilt will be drawn at the end of the meeting. It's been a significant part of the Neighbourhood House community this year as we've designed and constructed it together. I can't wait to see who gets to take it home.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


One of my tasks for this morning is to unpack my bag from Saturday's Indigo workshop. We were told that the gloves we used would be exclusively devoted to Indigo from that day forth. Here's why:It feels like a bit of a badge of honour to have such stained gloves! I've tucked them into the shelf under the sink where I've found a spot for my indigo vat. Now I need to ring my dye suppliers and see about the materials I need to keep my vat going. It can sit for an indefinite period as it is, but I need a reducing agent to reactivate it before I can do any more dyeing. There are lots of different ways of setting up and maintaining a vat--some of them quite ancient and earthy--but this one relies on a few basic chemicals. There's also a fair bit of washing and rinsing to be done from the workshop before I can finish putting it all away, so I'd better get on with it.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Walking to the Williamstown Railway Station yesterday afternoon with some friends, we came across this:
In case you can't read the fine print: this is the Morris Ltd, Fish and Poultry Department bike! As a craftsperson I'm fascinated by the way all the components were designed and assembled for the task. As a cyclist I hope the fish and poultry in that front basket weren't too heavy. It would be quite a challenge to ride steadily on the cobbled bluestone streets with a full load. I'm not going to think about the odours wafting up from the basket on a summer day.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Friend

Yesterday was a funny sort of day. It started with an accident on the freeway. While I drove in to the Guild at Carlton I heard a report on the news about a crash somewhere in the Eastern suburbs. I let it slip by until I got to the workshop to find I was the only student. The others trickled in as the morning went on: with sore shoulders; tense and tired from the resulting traffic congestion. A cuppa and a bar of chocolate went some way towards reviving them. Meanwhile the tutor was fighting off a cold and unsuccesfully stuggling to open the back door of the hall to allow us to set up our dyeing equipment in the open air.

Eventually we got into the swing of the workshop. Marilyn showed us how to set up an Indigo vat from scratch. I love from scratch! Here's the stock solution sitting in a warm bath while the various components do their thing:
That dark blue colour of indigo turned into a yellowish-green as the dye turned into its soluble form. The magic was watching it oxidise again after dyeing the yarns: the unique blue gradually reappearing on the fibre and staying there.

By the end of the day I was so bonded with the process that I couldn't resist the invitation to take a leftover indigo vat home for myself. It's in the car as I type. In fact I must bring it into the house so I have room for passengers today. I spent the evening reading my Indigo book and dreaming of possiblilities. I know, it's not a great time for me to find a home for another bulky source of colour, but I find myself justifying myself in a million ways. Basically though, I love this stuff, and there's always room in the house for those you love.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Another month has flown by and it's once again time for the monthly workshop at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild. Today it's Indigo dyeing and I can't wait! As I was falling asleep last night, I was thinking, "Indigo tomorrow; Indigo tomorrow; Indigo tomorrow . . . " It was better than counting sheep. My friend A gave me this book a few years ago. I'd done a natural dyeing workshop at the Botanical Gardens' Plant Craft Cottage. After just a taste of the magic of Indigo I was hooked. I haven't done anything with it since--except dream and wish. Today we've been promised guidance about setting up a vat as well as the opportunity to do lots of samples. I've taken the instruction to bring "lots of little skeins" to heart. As well as a bag of sample skeins I'd prepared for a previous dyeing workshop, I've got all the bits and bobs of white handspun out of my stash. I figure I don't have to use everything up, but I'd just hate to run out of yarn before the vat runs out of colour. Now to pack up my bits and pieces and head off to Carlton.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Here's a close up of one of the shawl pins I made recently.I must admit, it's my favourite and it's going to be hard to send it away. On the other hand, I get such a thrill when somebody chooses to buy something I've created and the only way that's going to happen is if I let it go. Hmmm, I guess that's a lesson for life!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I'm spinning another marle yarn. This time it's a combinations of reds and orange. For the first bobbin I split the rovings down quite finely and held the different colours together in my hand as I drafted. The second bobbin will be similar, but I'll leave the rovings a little thicker and allow the colours to vary a bit more. When I ply them together there will be combinations of the different colours at different intervals. I want it to be a warm and vibrant colour story as it's still cool enough to have the heater on for most of the morning here in Melbourne.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lemon-Lime Tango

I'm still in clearing up mode. That means when I came across a bag of leftover coloured wool tops I decided to spin them up rather than find a place to store them. I pulled out the bright yellow and a green called celery. Spinning them together as a marle gave me a single that would suit an Aussie cheer squad. It was a classic green-gold contrast. I then did another single of a lime green. I was hoping the three colours would blend effectively. Here's a pic of the result: It's certainly bright, but in a way that pleases me. I'm especially happy with the way the lemon yellow has blended with the greens despite the fact that I did no actual mixing. Now I've got a red-orange combo on the table waiting to be spun. Meanwhile there are piles of weeds to be taken to the green dump and a patchwork class to prepare for this evening. That should keep me out of trouble for today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Teal Yarn Continued

I've still got at least half a dozen balls of this teal 8-ply yarn after completing the blanket. It's a cotton/acrylic. It's surprisingly solid--densely spun. I don't know what I was thinking of making when I bought it, but it looks like I bought enough for a jacket. That never eventuated. Now I'm nearly half way through a cushion cover. I'm using single crochet stitches, so it will be nice and strong. Next I think I'll experiment with a the pattern for a cap which I've had in mind for a while. Meanwhile there are balls of shiny tencel in the box near the armchair also waiting for some creative attention. Thankfully they're not all the exact same colour or I'd be very bored very quickly. As it is, I think it will be a while before I move on from this teal yarn phase.

Monday, September 6, 2010


A few days ago I thought I was about half way through this crochet blanket. Now I've declared it finished. In the pic it's folded in half with both fringes on the right-hand side. I'm thinking about doubling the fringes before I tie them off: to make it a bit richer at the edges and to use up just a bit more of the yarns I've collected.

I always find it hard to judge how large to make these blankets. This one will tuck under my feet and come up to my shoulders when I've got the recliner out on the armchair. That seems like a good size to me. My taller friends might wish for a bit more length, but there are at least two more blankets available in the living room, so that will be just fine. Now I get to chose my first project to make with the leftovers.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


My friend L sent me this pic last night:It's the nectarine which we vigorously dug from my back garden last week end. I told you she'd gone home to soak it in a reviving concoction of seasol and compost. It looks like that was very effective. We were hoping the flower buds wouldn't drop off. Not only have they hung on, they're literally blooming.

Meanwhile there has been much more digging activity in my back garden. Nothing as cute as the nectarine this week: mainly clumps of dietes. I have decided that if I every need to build an air-raid shelter, I will plant dietes over the top of it. They are among the toughest things I have met. There were eight clumps in my tiny back garden. Five have been dug up and shipped out. One is lying in pieces waiting for a trip to its new home and two are tenaciously holding on. My mission for today is to make them let go. I wish I knew some enthusiastic basket weavers. Failing that I'll have to do a couple of trips to the green dump.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Multiplication Problem

I started this blanket a few weeks ago.I was at the beginning of my big clear out and wanted something cosy to sit with in the armchair while contemplating the changes in my life. I also wanted to use up a couple of boxes of yarn I had in the sewing room. Of course I had to buy a few other yarns to mix up the colours and add some variety. Now I can see a problem emerging: the blanket is probably about half done. I'm thinking of it as a generous lap blanket for one person. But I'm nowhere near halfway through my yarns. I don't seem to be making a dent in either the original yarns I planned to use up, nor the extras I bought to vary the mix. I know I've thrown away a few ball bands, so I must have worked through at least a few balls, but I can't see the hole in the pile where they came from. I'm casting my eyes around the living room, looking for things to transform with crochet. There are a couple of large cushions currently covered in a simple cream fabric. They will have to be the first candidates. Then I have friends who might like a spring scarf in some of these colours . . . Meanwhile I'll keep stitching away in my moments of contemplation and see if the pile gets any smaller.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Waiting Game

I submitted my application to the Sydney Rd, Brunswick traders yesterday. Now I have to sit tight for a couple of weeks to hear the outcome. I don't find it easy to sit tight.
Sitting tight is also on the agenda for my Shed/studio project. I dropped in to the Council offices yesterday to check on the permit process. It's taken a week for the application to make its way into the system: from the actual mailbox to when it appears on the computer. The next step is waiting for allocation to a planner. Once it's allocated it will then be considered. The two week "fast track" process I've been told about is apparently immobilised by the delays in getting the applications to the planners for consideration. Did I say I'm not good at sitting tight. I'll probably make a couple of calls today to see if there's anything else I can do. Not that there aren't plenty of things to be getting on with at home. I must remember to keep calm and breathe slowly. Oh, that's so hard!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


My top task for today is to finalise my application for the Sydney Rd Traders' Windows/Frames exhibition. I've based my work on things found in garden sheds and Op shops. The centrepiece is the freeform knitting I've been working on. It's spun and knitted from 20-something year old fleece kept in my friend S's garden shed. Photographing the work was an interesting challenge. I needed to find a space without too many distractions and a perspective from which to take the photo which wouldn't catch me in the mirror. I ended up in my back hallway, taking the photo from outside the door so as to get the distance I needed. This is one of the pics I'm not going to use in the application. You can see all the clutter outside my back door reflected in the mirror behind the chair. I can submit two shots, so the second will be a close up of the knitting. The mirror is a key part of what I want the viewer to see, though. It helps to make the context of the piece part of the story. And since I don't know where this will be displayed, that uncertainty becomes part of the story too. It's been exciting to explore the possibilities as I go along. Now I need an "artist's statement" of less than fifty words. Then to print out my pics and head down to Brunswick to submit the whole thing before lunch time. Hmmm, it must be time for a coffee!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paper Power

I'm on a mission to make more room in my home. Some things are hard to sort out. Others just require a certain resolution. Take my files, for instance. I got rid of a filing cabinet last year when I had my floors redone. I bought a couple of filing drawers that would fit under the desk in my sewing room. At the time I thought I could simply transfer the files from one place to the other--not a problem. Well there was a problem: the new filing drawers were a smaller size than the old ones. I don't mean that they just had less capacity. The actual files were shorter, so my old hanging files wouldn't fit on the new rails. Suddenly tackling my files was just too hard. They've been stacked in boxes under my desk ever since. This week I've been ruthless. Here's my power tool: A heavy-duty paper shredder and a simple decision that any bills pre-2005 are definitely not required. Nor are dockets for non-tax-deductible items. Four bags of shredded paper later and there's a lot more room to move around here. The shredded paper is used by my favourite pet shop for their animal cages. It seems quite appropriate that some of the old complications of my life should become toilet paper for cute furry beasts.